Academic Commons Peer Tutoring Receives Elite Certification

The program for undergraduate tutors meets high pedagogical standards, according to the College Reading and Learning Association.

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William Atkins/GW Today
March 31, 2021

By Ruth Steinhardt

The George Washington University’s Academic Commons peer tutoring program has received certification through the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA), an internationally recognized organization that certifies tutor training programs within institutions of higher education.

“Receiving this certification recognizes the superior quality of our peer tutoring program and the learner-centered instructional methods they are using,” said Geneva Henry, dean of GW Libraries and Academic Innovation (LAI). “Tutors’ effectiveness is greatly enhanced by this training in learning theory, active learning and communicating with diverse student learners.”

Peer tutors are undergraduate students either hired based on faculty recommendation or approved by faculty in the department in which they teach, and they work closely with faculty to ensure they’re working with students in ways consistent with the department’s values and priorities.

The CRLA certification reflects Academic Commons’ rigorous pedagogical requirements. Through hours of training and evaluation, undergraduate tutors learn not only to be experts in their subject matter, but also how best to communicate that subject matter to the students they teach and facilitate active learning. It’s an elevated standard of professionalism not always expected from, or accorded to, undergraduate subject tutors.

The pivot to this new standard began last March, just before the COVID-19 pandemic mandated a turn from mixed in-person and virtual tutoring to a fully online tutoring and learning program. Still, by fall 2020, all staff in the peer tutoring program had completed training to CRLA standards. The program received certification in February 2021. Eligible student tutors will be recognized for their work and receive their certificates at a virtual ceremony in April.

“The entire Academic Commons staff—peer tutors, graduate assistants and professional team—have worked very hard to earn this certification,” Academic Commons Director Kevin Knudsen said. “I’m confident this enhanced training is making a difference to student learners in every tutoring session.”

 

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